Wife refuses sex ever again


I have read several articles here and in other forums where one spouse has refused sex at a regular rate (i.e. once or twice a month or even only a few times a year). My wife has refused sex for several years and stated quite clearly she never has intentions of ever having sex again. In fact, she refuses any sort of physical contact.

I hear Catholic teaching where they claim there is no divorce. I also read - quite clearly - in the Bible that you can ONLY divorce for sexual immorality which is clearly defined as violating marriage vows. This includes both adultery and an outright refusal for sex.

What is the Catholic stance on this situation? Divorce is clearly allowed for adultery, but refusal of sex is also clearly “sexual immorality”.



Your wife needs to have a complete physical and mental checkup for starters. Why is she refusing contact? You might also benefit from marriage counseling.


Have you asked your wife why she feels like this?


If you are Catholic, make an appointment yo speak to a priest. He is best trained to answer you on your specific set of circumstances. You will receive both knowledgeable and incorrect answers here because we can’t possibly know all of the details.


It is a grave sin under Catholic teaching for one spouse to unilaterally refuse marital relations to the other spouse, absent a grave reason, for a lengthy period of time. It offends against the marriage debt. But if she sins in this way, I don’t see what you can do, other than pray, practice self-denial, and try to reason with her.


First, some research into that passage and what is meant:



As you see, neither adultery nor refusal to have sex is a valid reason for divorce (now, these things may be symptoms of a deeper problem, however, just a surgeon will not amputate your leg because of a broken toe).

The hypothetical couple would seek counsel from a qualified Catholic counselor, their pastor and work to heal their relationship.


No, I don’t know where you see in the Bible refusing sex = adultery = sexual immorality!
Jesus speak of adultery for divorce.

St Paul that no spouse should refuse to the other.
That’s different. Divorce is a social and moral disorder, forced abstinence is not, even if it can be very frustating and lead to temptation.

So no, we cannot in catholic doctrine “divorced” if the marriage is rightly contracted, consummated and there is no refusal of children. If the forced abstinence is secondary, it is not possible.


I mean, this may seem like a stupid question, but have you asked her why? There could certainly be legitimate reasons for refusing sex and while one should hope for circumstance to get better, sometimes when some says, “never” what they really mean is, “until there is significant change to our circumstances.” Why is she refusing sex? Have you been unfaithful and she’s concerned of getting a disease? Is her health at great risk from becoming pregnant? Is it painful for her? You don’t have to answer these, of course, but they’re rhetorical. If your wife has a just reason for not wanting to have sex, then you should encourage her to work on the situation and try to make sex possible again.


No, that isn’t the definition or meaning of that passage.

I am very sorry you are going through this. It is a true cross to bear.

If you divorce, you are not free to marry another.

No, it isn’t.


I will add: divorce don’t exist in catholic Church.

What spouses can do is to separate them physically when their cohabitation is, for practical reasons, impossible.
But they are still married and cannot marry again in the Church when the other spouse is still alive, and are supposed to be faithfull to their marriage vows.


I don’t want to know all the details :neutral_face:


Why does the Catholic church ignore “except for sexual immorality” in:

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”


Are you two seeking counseling?


Please read the articles linked above wrt the correct interpretation of the word used in that version in the original language “pornea”.


I am very sorry about the current state of your marriage. Some people have medical reasons for avoiding sex, yet it sounds like your wife will have no physical contact whatsoever.

This must be very painful. Please seek the advice of your parish Priest or Deacon. Also find a good marriage therapist to help you. There is always hope. I am praying for you.


The church does not ignore it. You are not correctly interpreting that passage. You can read church documents that explain this.

It is talking about a very specific thing, in the Greek the word porneia, which means incestuous relationships or other relationships that are forbidden by divine law. So what it actually talking about is an in valid marriage, not what you are talking about.

Also, it does not say in this passage that one can remarry if one divorces. So if you were looking to divorce in order to enter into a new relationship, that is not possible. It is completely possible to separate legally through separation or divorce for serious reasons.


Please seek counseling from your pastor. Also encourage your wife to see a doctor, and a counselor. If your wife won’t go with you to counseling with your pastor or someone else, you need to still go yourself


Hi Jasonwb,

I agree with the other posters that counseling would be a good start.

Additionally, I would start with one sentence that jumped out at me when I read your post: “In fact, she refuses any sort of physical contact.”

I can tell you from personal experience that I refused to have sex with my (now ex-husband) when he was cheating on me, which made me feel sad, disgusted, unsafe, and angry. I didn’t want him to touch me, let alone have physical relations. Because he was unwilling to stop this behavior, our sex life never recovered. I couldn’t feel safe with him.

Just food for thought. I will pray for your marriage!



I have suggested it, but she has no interest.


I’m not quite sure what you mean, but if you’re thinking that may be her reason, I can tell you it’s not. I am not, not ever had an affair and she is well aware of that. Was there something else you were thinking? If not, what did you mean by food for thought?

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